Bangladeshi Hostages Freed in Libya

By Shahriar Sharif
150325-BD-ghani-620 A Libyan security member walks past an oil drill at the al-Ghani field, March 23, 2013.

Two oil workers from Bangladesh who were taken hostage by suspected Islamic State militants in Libya have been released after 18 days in captivity, Bangladeshi officials said Wednesday.

Helal Uddin, from Jamalpur district in the Dhaka area, and Mohammad Anowar Hossain, a resident of Noakhali district in southeastern Bangladesh, were freed from captivity Tuesday night, according to foreign ministry officials.

In an interview with BenarNews, Hossain’s wife said that he called her after his release.

“After long days, he could talk to me for only one minute. He said in a low voice, ‘I am okay, pray for me,’” said his wife, Marufa Khatun.

After their release, the two men were taken to a hospital in Sirte – about 435 miles (700 kilometers) from the Libyan capital of Tripoli – where they stayed overnight, Reuters reported.

Uddin and Hossain were among a group of at least nine foreign workers who were abducted from the al-Ghani oil field, south of Sirte in north-central Libya, during an attack by Islamists on March 6. The assailants reportedly beheaded eight Libyan guards before taking the foreigners hostage.

Questions linger

On Wednesday, the fate of the other hostages remained unknown. It was also unclear why only the two Bangladeshis were freed, and whether they were kept in captivity with the others.

“In the name of Islam, why they took them hostage and suddenly released them, nobody knows about that,” Khatun said.

According to Bangladeshi media reports, the wife of the second hostage, Uddin, got a phone call from her husband on Tuesday while he was still in captivity.

During that call, Uddin informed her that his captors were talking about freeing him and Hossain, media reported.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh’s ambassador to Libya, Maj. Gen. Shahidul Haque, confirmed the news about the two Bangladeshis being freed.

“The physical conditions of both the Bangladesh nationals are reportedly normal,” read a statement from the ambassador.

“After the release of the two Bangladeshis, they were being treated in a hospital,” Asraful Islam, labor counselor at the embassy, told BenarNews by phone, citing information provided by VAOS, the Austrian oil services firm that employed them.


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